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Hailstorms, wind, extreme heat. How can you protect your car from South African weather?

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Guide to protecting your car from South Africa's weather: tips for hail, heat, and rain.

You know how it is; one minute you're enjoying a sunny drive, and the next, you're caught in a downpour. South Africa’s ever-changing weather doesn't just play havoc with your plans but can also damage your car. So, let's dive into why it's crucial to do all you can to protect your car from weather-related damage and how to do it right.

We love Summer in SA but it also brings heat, hail, and harsh sunlight.

Ever touched a scorching steering wheel? It’s not fun. South African summers bring some serious challenges for your car. Intense heat and direct sunlight can fade your car's paint and even its dashboard. And don’t forget those sudden hailstorms that can quite literally stop you in your tracks – hailstones have the potential to write off a car.

How can you protect your car from Summer weather?

Shade and protection: Use a car cover or find shaded parking whenever you can. Yes, those sun shades might look a bit dorky, but they're great for keeping your car cooler and protecting the interior.

Stay alert for hail warnings: Keep an eye on hail warnings from your insurer or the news. When there's a hail warning, try to limit your driving. It's all about being proactive.

Caught in a hailstorm? If you find yourself at a friend's braai and hail is on the horizon, your first move should be to find cover. If that's not an option, check if there's time to safely drive home. If not, see if you can at least shelter the bonnet of your car in their garage. And as a last resort, a thick blanket or duvet over your car can help protect it from the worst of the hail.

Avoid tree cover and bridges: While parking under a tree might seem like a good idea for shade, it's not safe during a storm, as falling branches can damage your car. Similarly, pulling over under a bridge on the highway during low visibility conditions is risky and can cause accidents.

Brrrrr. Winter isn’t only miserable for you – your car doesn’t like it much either.

Winter in South Africa isn't all about cosying up. Those heavy rains and occasional floods along the Eastern and Western Cape can be a nightmare for your car. Water damage leads to rust, and let's not even get started on the electrical issues that can come up.

How can you protect your car from Winter?

Regular maintenance: Keep an eye on your car's seals and undercarriage for any signs of rust or damage. Got a few scratches or dents? Best to get them fixed pronto to prevent further damage.

Navigating flooded roads: Encounter a flooded road? It’s always safer to take a detour. If you do find yourself in a sticky situation with rising water, avoid restarting the engine. This can cause serious damage, especially if water has gotten into the engine. If needed, open your windows for a quick escape, and call your insurer's emergency assistance line. Remember, if the water's rising fast, prioritise your safety and seek higher ground.

Driving in heavy rains: Slow down and maintain a safe following distance. The roads can get slippery, especially with oil on the surface. Low visibility? Turn on your hazards to ensure other drivers can see you.

What about wind? Can it cause damage to your car?

Both in summer and winter, gusty winds can whip up a whole lot of dust and debris, which can cause scratches and damage to your windshield and paint job.

How can you protect your car from the wind?

Car maintenance: Regular washing and a good waxing session are your first line of defence to protect your car’s paint. Also, keep those wiper blades in top shape – they should be replaced every two years, at least.

Safe driving in windy conditions: Strong winds can catch you by surprise, affecting your steering and making high-profile vehicles like SUVs and trucks unstable. Combined with flying debris, this ups the ante for accidents. So, reduce your speed, maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel, and increase your following distance. Be extra vigilant for unpredictable behaviour from other vehicles, especially larger ones. And if the winds get really hectic, it might be safest to pull over until conditions improve.

Here’s what weather you can expect from each province and what to do about it

1. Gauteng: Hailstorms and Summer showers

In Gauteng, summer brings not just warmth but also the risk of sudden, severe hailstorms. These icy stones can leave dents and broken windows in their wake.

2. Western Cape: Wet Winters and windy conditions

The Western Cape is known for its wet winters. Driving in Cape Town during this season can mean navigating through heavy rains and avoiding flood-prone areas.

3. Eastern Cape: You never know what you might get

This region experiences a mix of weather conditions. From heavy rain in the Transkei to drier conditions towards the Karoo, it's a mixed bag.

4. KwaZulu-Natal: Humidity and coastal salt

The humid climate in KwaZulu-Natal, especially along the coast, can accelerate rusting, while salt air can be harsh on paint and metal.

5. Free State: Extreme temperatures

The Free State experiences extreme temperatures, both hot and cold. This can affect your battery life and tyre pressure.

6. Northern Cape: Heat and dust

The arid Northern Cape is known for its scorching heat and dusty conditions, which can challenge your car's cooling system and air filters.

7. Mpumalanga and Limpopo: Thunderstorms and heat

These regions experience hot, humid summers with frequent thunderstorms. The heat can be taxing on your car's air conditioning, while heavy rains require good tyres for traction.

How insurance can help when bad weather hits.

Comprehensive car insurance can protect against these weather-related damages by covering the costs of repairs from hail damage, flood damage, and even that fallen branch that decided to make your car its landing spot. You can get a car insurance quote in 90 seconds with Naked.

Always check the weather apps and then check again

Remember, protecting your car from the weather is not just about keeping it looking good; it's about maintaining its value and ensuring your safety on the road. With a bit of preparation and the right insurance, you can keep your car safe from whatever the South African weather throws at it.

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